Open Arms’ Response to COVID-19

 

This post features the most up-to-date information on Open Arms’ response to COVID-19. For real-time updates, please follow us on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and sign up for our mailing list, The Weekly Dish.

Like everyone in our community, we too at Open Arms are experiencing the dramatic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. From changing our daily operations to canceling fundraisers to altering our delivery methods, everything is changing. But please rest assured that we are closely following official guidelines (from the CDC and the MN Department of Health) and state/federal recommendations and orders, all in order to continue our primary mission: to cook and deliver free, healthy meals to our clients in need.

This post collects all the changes we are making in response to COVID-19, organized by clients, volunteers, and Open Arms.

Key points:

  • Open Arms is considered an “essential” business and is part of the Twin Cities’ critical sector response to COVID-19. With this understanding, we can and will continue to operate and deliver meals to our clients with life-threatening illnesses and compromised immune systems.
  • We are taking all precautionary measures to ensure the safety of our community, which includes our clients, volunteers, staff, and more.
  • We have received many emails and phone calls from the Open Arms’ community asking how they can help our clients during the pandemic. The best way to help at the moment is to donate. Your donations will ensure that we can continue providing emergency bags of shelf-stable food for our clients and their families, delivering medically-tailored meals to the increasing number of clients who need our help, and stocking our supplies so we can be there for our clients when they need us most.

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UPDATES FOR OUR CLIENTS:

 

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, we want to assure you that your well-being remains our top priority. We are taking extra steps to ensure you have healthy food in the unlikely event that our volunteers are not able to deliver due to COVID-19. If you have any questions or need to update your contact information, please call (612-767-7333) or email (meals@openarmsmn.org) our Client Services Department.

  • 03/23: We are now asking our delivery drivers to help protect you by keeping a safe distance. Starting immediately, our volunteer delivery drivers will call before they arrive, knock on your door, and step back in order to keep a safe distance. As always, we will not leave food unattended if you are not home. If you believe that this new system will not work for you, please contact us ASAP.
  • 03/23: We are changing some of the food items in your meal deliveries.
  • 03/18: Delivery drivers are being asked to remain outside our building while staff bring them client meals for delivery.
  • 03/16: We are sending out over 1,000 emergency bags of shelf-stable food in addition to regular deliveries this week. We are also distributing health and safety information with each delivery.
  • 03/06: We have boosted our sanitation measures inside and outside our building, including: (1) increasing how often we clean and sanitize doorknobs, surfaces, and rooms in our building; (2) reminding staff, volunteers, and other visitors to our building that they must stay home when they are sick; and (3) repeating messages to delivery drivers that they must wash their hands or use hand sanitizers frequently.
  • 03/06: We are sending additional reminders and communication to all staff and volunteers with important tips to help prevent the spread of illness.
  • 03/05: The Open Arms’ kitchen staff are working to get ahead in production so that we have extra meals to deliver in the event of an outbreak.
  • 03/05: To ensure the safety of our community, we will continue to monitor the situation and stay abreast of updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Minnesota Department of Public Health, and local health officials about the diagnosis and management of cases of novel coronavirus.

 

UPDATES FOR OUR VOLUNTEERS & VISITORS:

 

Thank you for all of the love as we navigate this new territory! In times like these, we are struck by what an incredible community we truly have. We appreciate the care and compassion you show our clients. They need us, and we need you!

  • 03/25: Gov. Tim Walz’s executive “stay-at-home” order defines “workers” and “personnel” as employees, contractors, venders, and volunteers. This confirms that volunteers are allowed to continue working with Open Arms during this order (which lasts until 4/10).
  • 03/25: We are encouraging volunteers who are most at-risk from coronavirus (people aged 65 years and older and those with compromised health conditions) or live with people who are in at-risk populations, to stay at home.
  • 03/23: Starting immediately, volunteer delivery drivers must call clients before they arrive, knock on their door, and then step back in order to keep a safe distance.
  • 03/18: All building visitors are being asked health screening questions as they walk in the door.

General:

  • Please check our website and Facebook page regularly to see if we need volunteers.
  • Ensure you are always following the latest rules regarding social distancing for deliveries.
  • If you are a current volunteer and can’t make an upcoming delivery, please cancel your shift in Volgistics as soon as you know. If we have at least 24 hours’ notice, we can recruit someone to replace you.
  • If you or anyone in your household has had a respiratory illness or a fever in the past 72 hours, we ask you to please stay home. If you have traveled by airplane in the last 14 days, we ask you to please stay home for a two-week quarantine
  • Please be mindful of your own health and adhere to the following guidelines:
  • Volunteers who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness must stay home. These include fever of over 100F, coughing, sneezing, and/or shortness of breath.
  • Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap, rub between fingers and under nails; and then rinse and dry. Use alcohol (60%+) hand gel if sinks are not readily available.
  • Practice and encourage others to use proper coughing/sneezing etiquette. Cover mouth and nose with the crook of your arm or fully cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean and sanitize phones, desks, tables and other surfaces frequently.

 

UPDATES FROM OPEN ARMS:

 

Our clients are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. They live with life-threatening illnesses and underlying health issues, which compromise their immune systems. Leaving the house during this pandemic is literally not an option for them. It is critical that we continue delivering the healthy meals they need. Here are ways in which we are responding directly to the impact of COVID-19:

  • 03/27: We have changed schedules to reduce the days employees spend on our premises while still continuing our essential operations.
  • 03/25: In light of Gov. Tim Walz’s announcement implementing a “stay-at-home” order for Minnesota (starting 3/27), we are reminding our community that Open Arms is considered an “essential” business and is part of the Twin Cities’ critical sector response to COVID-19. We can and will continue to operate and deliver meals to our clients with life-threatening illnesses and compromised immune systems.
  • 03/25: Our building hours have temporarily changed in order to reduce traffic. Our new public building hours can be found here.
  • 03/24: In light of the local and federal recommendations to limit large gatherings, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our 16th-annual Moveable Feast, our largest fundraising event. Please consider making a donation and help us raise the funds that we count on from Moveable Feast every year. It is vital that we raise the $475,000 (equaling 95,000 meals) that we are losing due to its cancellation.
  • 03/18: We are limiting traffic in our buildings as much as possible. Delivery drivers are being asked to remain outside our building while staff bring them client meals for delivery.
  • 03/18: We continue to be vigilant about cleaning our building and have cancelled all large group gatherings in our building. All building visitors are being asked health screening questions as they walk in the door.
  • 03/05: We are stocking up on hand sanitizer, and it will be available throughout our building. Staff will be more frequently sanitizing common areas and hospitality spaces.

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